Spring is in the air

Septem­ber is a great month as we tran­si­tion from win­ter into the warmer months of spring.

The Orchardist - - Contents - Ju­lian Raine is pres­i­dent of Hort NZ

De­spite the con­tin­u­ous wet, the warmer tem­per­a­tures and longer day­light hours al­ways make you feel more op­ti­mistic. Spring and all that it brings gives you a higher step and a smile on every­one’s face. The senses are alive with the smell of freshly mown grass, the sound of bees hum­ming and the emer­gence of new leaves from dor­mant trees and freshly planted crops. There is a sense of ex­cite­ment as to what the new sea­son will bring. It just feels great to be part of the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try.

Our in­dus­try has many great at­tributes both in­side and out­side our farm gates. I am priv­i­leged to see so many dif­fer­ent as­pects of it. Last month we held the final for the Young Grower of the Year com­pe­ti­tion. The final show­cases our very best. They are the champions of the hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try. Held in Christchurch over a day and an evening, the re­gional win­ners came to­gether to see who had the su­pe­rior skills and knowl­edge in our in­dus­try. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the five con­tes­tants - each of you did an ex­cel­lent job. The com­pe­ti­tion was tough and hard fought. Well done to Erin Atkin­son, of Te Puke, who took out the Young Grower of the Year and Young Fruit Grower of the Year, while Scott Wil­cox won the Young Veg­etable Grower of the Year. It would be great to be able to use these tal­ented champions by tak­ing them into the schools and com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try.

I also en­joy the in­dus­try fo­rums. These are like a hor­ti­cul­tural fam­ily gather­ing for a com­mon good.Whilst we are at dif­fer­ent “ages and stages” they are an op­por­tu­nity to up­date every­one about what is hap­pen­ing in each oth­ers’ patches and to dis­cuss and tackle com­mon is­sues.We have three hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try fo­rums a year in Fe­bru­ary, Au­gust and De­cem­ber. The Au­gust one co­in­cides with the Young Grower of the Year com­pe­ti­tion. All prod­uct groups and grower as­so­ci­a­tions are in­vited to these events and most of their chairs and man­agers at­tend. It is healthy to re­port that we don’t al­ways agree on some mat­ters, but we re­spect each other’s po­si­tion. I stress that the fo­rums are not a talk fest but add real value for the groups that at­tend. The in­for­ma­tion shared and the views formed are ben­e­fi­cial for those that par­tic­i­pate. I know some groups re­port the min­utes back to their grow­ers.

Along­side and in ad­di­tion to the fo­rums a num­ber of the groups come to­gether to work on spe­cific is­sues.They re­port back reg­u­larly. The Hor­ti­cul­tural Ca­pa­bil­ity Group is a good ex­am­ple of this. This group was formed to look at the labour needs of the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try at all lev­els. They have for­mu­lated a strat­egy to gather in­for­ma­tion about the labour needs of our in­dus­try over time, iden­tify pos­si­ble solutions, the re­sources re­quired and cre­ate and im­ple­ment ways to fill the cur­rent gap.

Septem­ber is also the month for our New Zealand gen­eral election. As vot­ing is just about upon us it is only fit­ting that I com­ment briefly on it. Un­for­tu­nately, the po­lit­i­cal race for a job for the next three years and whose hand is on the steer­ing wheel, seems to bring the worst out in some peo­ple. For the past cou­ple of months we have had the usual stone-turn­ing, delv­ing into the private lives of politi­cians and those hop­ing to be­come one. Un­for­tu­nately the me­dia scrum that fol­lows com­pletely misses the im­por­tant stuff such as the poli­cies the par­ties will stand be­hind for the next three years.

Over the last few months Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand has com­mented on a num­ber of poli­cies that af­fect our in­dus­try both neg­a­tively and pos­i­tively. We have had our election man­i­festo out and around all the main par­ties to get their view on the is­sues dear to us.You can find their re­sponses on pages 14-17. Ul­ti­mately the New Zealand public will de­cide who gov­erns the coun­try for the next term. I urge you all to care­fully read the poli­cies that par­ties have for­mu­lated be­fore vot­ing on Septem­ber 23. Election day is an im­por­tant day in spring to ex­er­cise your demo­cratic right, re­mem­ber we will all be liv­ing with the con­se­quences for the next three years. Vote wisely.

“Election day is an im­por­tant day in spring to ex­er­cise your demo­cratic right, re­mem­ber we will all be liv­ing with the con­se­quences for the next three years. Vote wisely.”

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